Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Duck the NRA and GOP? Understandable but ...

David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers asks Why have Clinton and Obama ducked gun control issue? and actually deliver a rather solid view into the political realities of the issue as it stands today. I'm often a Russ Feingold style Progressive and generally think the 2nd Amendment applies to individuals. Senator Feingold offered back in 2004 the following:
I have never accepted the proposition that the gun debate is a black and white issue, a matter of ``you're with us, or you're against us.'' Instead, I have followed what I believe is a moderate course, faithful to the Constitution and to the realities of modern society. I believe that the Second Amendment was not an afterthought, that it has meaning today and must be respected. I support the right to bear arms for lawful purposes--for hunting and sport and for self-protection. Millions of Americans own firearms legally and we should not take action that tells them that they are second-class citizens or that their constitutional rights are under attack. At the same time, there are actions we can and should take to protect public safety that do not infringe on constitutional rights.
That works for me. In Mr. Lightman's reporting, the idea of "common sense" and "reasonable" kept showing up. I think that's because many in the Democratic Party approach the issue more out of what is smart policy rather than smart politics. The GOP tends to go at plenty of issues from what works on the political end rather than on the policy side of the mix. And the fantasy that "liberals want to take our guns" is surely one of their best sellers. Do some liberals want to take their guns? Well, admittedly a few might. But most want to apply some common sense to problems and challenges that face our society. With the NRA and other gun lobbies fighting even moderate reforms tooth and nail, I'll surely stack those on our extreme end up against the one's in the "you'll take my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers" camp.

I recall back in 2006, when I helped in the Jerry McNerney for Congress campaign, we got in mass mailing postcards from various gun owners that had apparently been generated via some gun magazine or club. They were asking some rather loaded and perhaps even disingenuous questions but I surely wanted to generate a response and in fact tackled that effort. My draft reply never made the cut as a way of responding to their questions as pretty much everyone agreed those votes were likely not going our way. I'll share it if I could but I seem to have misplaced that darn thing.

Progressives have let the GOP and NRA and ... take charge on this "gun control" issue. But it's way past time we fought back. Indeed we'll never get those way out on the fringe but reasonable people can and will support our Party if we'll just do a better job of defining our position. Now is as good a time as any to push back against the GOP's foolishness. Jujitsu politics anyone? John Gunn

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